The greatest camera in the world? Quite possibly (for me, anyhow).

When the Olympus OM-D E-M5 was announced, I instantly decided to buy one. That was many impatient months ago. Well, my camera has arrived, and I’ve put it through the paces the only way I know how; by packing up my biking, skiing and climbing gear and heading to the mountains to shoot till I’m blue in the face. The verdict? Watch the vid and find out!

Since the advent of the micro 4/3 platform, I’ve been in full support of the technology. For those of you who aren’t big ol’ nerds like me, the gist is this: sensors from big cameras put inside of small cameras that don’t have all of the fancy mirrors that make it possible to get a physical view through the actual lens of the camera. Instead, you look at a digital feed from the sensor. One can argue the merits of this trade-off, but the net effect is small cameras with great performance. This is the fourth micro 4/3 camera I’ve owned, and the first one that truly makes it possible to get big camera results in a small kit. I’m in love. Here’s why.

1. Small.
2. Built Tough (sealed magnesium body).
3. Fast (9 frames per second).
4. High Quality (16 megapixels).
5. Great in Low Light (ISO looks great up to 1600).
6. Good Video (1080p with autofocus).
7. Awesome Image Stabilization (the sensor moves to make up for shaky hands).
8. Cool Looking (I don’t buy cameras on looks, but this one gets mad style points).

This camera is definitely the most important tool in my arsenal because of it’s go ANYWHERE do ANYTHING capabilities. I’m excited to see what other people are able to achieve with this camera, and even more interested to see what other camera manufacturers come up with in response. The bar has officially been raised.

Below you’ll find the stills shot during the three days in the field while making this video as well as links to the equipment used to shoot the video and stills. Enjoy!

THE PHOTOS:

THE GEAR:

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Body
Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Zoom Lens
Olympus ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens
Olympus SEMA-1 Microphone Adapter Set

I’m looking forward to your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Please feel free to catch me elsewhere online: Facebook, Google+, 500px and Twitter

57 thoughts on “In the bush with: the Olympus OM-D E-M5

  1. Hi Scott. Firstly, unreal video and still images! i have watched this video alot before and after i bought the EM5. I am wanting to use the camera on the trail getting shots of riding in Australia. I am having some difficulties getting the types of stills you were able to capture of your mate riding. Can you give me some advice as to what setting you were using to get such clear stills at high speeds. I have been experimenting with the Sports mode, P, A, & S settings and cant quite seem to nail it. What setting did you mainly use when taking all the riding photos. any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

  2. Scott

    Does your E-M5 fit into the LowePro Photo Sport 200AW with the grip attached (with a lens too)? I’m thinking of getting one to house a E-M1 for the ski season.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Tristan,

      I don’t use a grip on my Olympus cameras, but it seems like it should fit just fine. I can get my Sony Alpha A99 with a 24-70 2.8 lens attached, and a second lens all to fit in the Photo Sport 200 camera compartment. BTW, I just picked up an EM-1 yesterday, can’t wait to get it out in the mountains!

  3. Hi Scott,

    I am a HUGE fan of your photography! I love how it encapsulates both nature and outdoor sports.

    Just graduated from school and want to invest in a camera and really ‘get into’ photography but am on the fence with whether I should invest in a full DSLR or go with a mirrorless to lighten carrying weight.

    I read your article on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and was considering that one except for the speed/ which is something I really want. So now I am considering the NEX-6 but am scared that after my purchase I’ll want to just get a full frame DSLR.

    Also, do you think the “weather-sealing” is a gimmick? My impression is that it is only important during lens changes. I’m going to be really getting out there with this camera and need something without too many issues with that.

    I know you are super-busy during this time of the year so anything helps!

    1. weather sealing is great as long as you jave the seals on. If you need weatyer sealing and dslr features, With IS, then look no further than a Pentax k3.
      Its unfair to compare this with a full frame dslr. If thats what you want and are willing to trade for size and convenience over a heavy but truly photographic beast then thats the route you should take. Cheers.

  4. Absolutely fantastic video review, and great pictures!

    Are you still using this setup, or have you moved on to another camera (GH3 perhaps?) or format?

  5. Had a OM-D myself and gave it up, while your photos look great here on the web, I’d be curious how they look in FULL Resolution? Are the Mountain bike jumps fully tack sharp worth printing at 20×30?
    I moved back to a DSLR for that very reason, while the images are good for web posting from a OM-D the Full resolution is not tack sharp. I’m a Mountain biker myself and shoot now with a 5D Mark III carried in a AW200 Sports backpack. Just my 2 cents for everyone debating giving up on DSLR.

    1. I’ve got an OM-D, and I LIKE the slightly softer look…it has more of a “film look”, i.e., less digital. Are you printing from raw? You can always crank the sharpness up in ACR if you insist on the “digital look”.

      I’m using the reallyrightstuff.com handgrip for the E-M5…it’s lighter, thinner, fits in smaller camera hip packs, and MOST importantly, has an undercut for your fingers on the grip. Nobody else seems to be doing the undercut yet, and it REALLY helps when your hands get wet. This grip ($120) also has a 1/4-20 threaded hole on its edge for tripod mounting in a vertical stance.

      -RetiredDP

  6. Great review, and great shots. I’ve been researching the entry level DSLR’s and 4/3 systems and this hits home with the type of shooting I plan on doing. Keep it up.

  7. Hey man awesome video!

    I’ve spent probably the last three hours just researching and watching videos about mirrorless cameras and, in particular, this OM-D E-M5. I’m an amateur/enthusiast photographer currently in college in Sydney studying interactive and multi-media. I get paid every now and then to take photos for friends and just through word of mouth, and would like to try and get more serious about photography in the future.

    I currently use a Canon 7D but recently have found that I just don’t always have it with me anymore, due to the size and weight of it and my kit. Also I just sometimes feel like I’m in peoples faces with when I’m doing street photography or even at parties and what not. Do you think that if I sold my 7D and replaced it with the Olympus OM-D, that I’d be able to get just as good images and performance? and if not would it make up for the size difference?

    Sorry for the essay but I’m just like super on the fence with this and your video was the best review on youtube man.

    Regards,
    Mike D.

    1. Michael, that’s a great question. You’ll lose a little bit of low light capabilities and the video is not as good, but beyond that, I think you’ll be very pleased with the OMD, and the portability will make up for the slight compromises in performance. The best camera is the one you can tolerate carrying around 😉

  8. Absolutely the most brilliant camera / product review I have seen in my some 40 years of taking pictures. Your work is amazing. Not only have you provided a true perspective of field use for this camera, you have given this 50 year old body a renewed desire to be back in the Northern bush of Canada. Thank-you

  9. Scott, great video! I just got the E-M5 a few weeks ago and love it. Psyched for ski season. Two questions: I have the 12-50 mainly for the weather sealing and it should be great for video, IMO, but how do you find the 14-150, etc. with the lack of weathersealing on those lenses for what you do? Any problems?

    Also, how do you find the CAF for moving targets (skiers in my case). Any tips on best focusing strategies to use for skiing, etc?

    Thanks! BTW – Love the photos on your site!

    1. SkiSwami,

      I’ve had great luck shooting in outdoor environments with the 9-18 and the 14-150. With some due caution, I don’t think the weather sealing issue is too big a deal. As to focus, the camera/lenses are quick to get an initial focus, but I don’t have as much confidence in their focus tracking when compared to bigger sports oriented SLR cameras. I generally try to pre-focus on the area where I think I’ll have the ‘decisive moment’ and then let focus tracking take over after the subject has moved past that point, that way I at least have sharp images during the peak action.

  10. Hey Scott, great video. Nice to see someone actually take that little camera out and put it through its paces. Just curious if you shot any (or all?) of the video with the actual OMD? Thanks…

  11. Wow, that’s the most entertaining product review I’ve ever seen. You sold me; I put in an order for the OMD EM5 today; found a kit with a 14-42 and 40-150 lens; the online reivew I read for the lenses were generally good, but I just noticed one of the reviewers on your blog had some bad experiences with the 40-150; guess I’ll see how it goes. Do you find a need for a polarizing filter? Also, can you make any recommendations to programs to publish photos and video to DVD?

    1. Finn,

      Glad you liked the review and super excited for your new camera kit. You’ll love it. I hope the 40-150 works well for you. If not, the 14-150 is amazing. I don’t generally use a polarizing filter, but carrying one is a totally reasonable thing to do, mostly depending on your desired output.

      As for DVD authoring, I haven’t done anything like that in quite a while. Apple ships their machines with iDVD, it’s slick and easy.

      Enjoy the new camera!

      Scott

  12. Hey Scott, great photos, write-up and vid from an in-the-great-outdoors use angle. I too love heading on trips into the wilderness here in NZ but I’m continually torn between lugging around the bulk and weight of my SLR and a couple of decent (= not light!) lenses vs the weight savings but performance compromise of my little Lumix LX3 (have just taken the latter of late).

    So the way you chucked the OM-D E-M5 and your lenses into that little case and then into your backpack before skiing/biking downhill is a ringing endorsement of this rugged little m4/3 beauty for my purposes…

    Can I ask what case you use – as I’d be after something compact/minimalistic that I can fit easily into a hiking pack without it hogging unnecessary space.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Jake,

      Thanks for the kind words. I use the LowePro Rezo 110 AW case for the kit in the video. It fits one body, a 14-150 and a 9-18 lens plus cards and 3 batteries. I’ve also started using the LowePro Photosport 200 AW for an integrated photo and outdoor equipment backpack solution for slightly larger kits.

  13. Hi Scot!, amazing reportage!, I really enjoyed your review of the OM-D!, I have using micro4/3 cameras since a few years ago from all my photography and dumped DSLR a while ago as well, now about to move to the OM-D and your review just proved that the camera is really suited for what I mainly wanted it for, I spend a lot of time travelling and in the outdoors, so it seems the perfect one! 🙂

    Cheers!

  14. Great video! Looks lke you had an awesome time! The riding looks great!
    I’m really impressed with what I have seen with this camera! The speed of shooting is one of my favourite features, it certainly beats the 4fps of my 550d! The only thing I’m not sold on with 4/3rd cameras is the glass, I’m not sure I could give up the freedom of having my 70-200 etc.
    I’m just not overly happy with buying lenses with such massive zoom ranges!

  15. Wow looks like you really put the OM-D to the test. Glad it has performed pretty well for you. You definitely get some stellar images out of it. Love looking at your collection of images over on 500px. I’ve been very happy with the camera and haven’t touched my DSLR since it arrived. Might be time to sell some stuff.

  16. Very nice photo’s!

    I have my EM-D for a couple of months now and purchased the 40-150mm zoom (and my 1 and only lens) just before on vacation to the Swiss alps.

    Do you know how it compares to the 14-150mm? I notice on the 40-150mm quite severe purple fringing on both ends of the zoom, but I think its photoshopable before printing…
    This 14-150mm is interesting because it could replace a multitude of lenses.

    1. DingieM,

      Thanks, glad you like the pictures!

      I’ve heard somewhat marginal feedback on the 40-150 from the people I know that have used them. I’ve been using the 14-150 for a couple of years and find it to be a surprisingly sharp lens and it stays on my camera 90% of the time. I am a huge fan of the ability this lens gives to operate with a single lens and a small camera.

  17. Great video review and some very nice images, Scott.
    I bought the E-M5 in April and so far I’m very happy with it.

  18. Looks great Scott! Glad to hear you’re enjoying your Olympus so much and you’re really putting it through the paces – and having fun doing it. What are you doing with your files while you’re camping? Do you bring a laptop to download and back them up? Or are you just bringing a ton of memory cards?

    1. Jennifer,

      I do a combination of those things. The variable tends to be how regularly I have access to a vehicle. If I’m camping with my car, I’ll usually download and backup the images every day. If I’m on a multi day outing and sleeping in the field, I carry tons of memory cards and do my downloading once I get back to civilization.

      1. Thanks Scott! I really appreciate you getting back to me. I have a seven day island camping/photo adventure coming up in a few weeks with my car left back on the mainland. Just trying to work out the details.

        Keep on being awesome!

        1. Jennifer,

          Sounds like fun! I’d recommend cards, but that’s because I love to get away from the burden (physical and mental) of carrying a computer on camping adventures. Just be very careful about keeping them very safe, as that’s your only copy of the data until you get back to your computer. Enjoy!

          Scott

  19. Great review Scott, seems like a sweet little camera. Stoked to see you’re gettin after it! My only question is who names these cameras? OM-D E-M5?? Why not just call it the Slayer…that’s what I’d name it anyway. Guess I’ll keep my day job.

  20. Hi Scott,

    I’ve heard that the RAW files from Olympus (in general – not the E-M5 specifically) don’t “process” as well as those from, say Nikon or Canon. As in, you can’t quite mess around with the colors/exposure as much before weird clipping/artifacts starts happening.

    What has been your personal experience with post processing images from the E-M5? Anything noticeably different from Nikon RAWs?
    (I personally have only owned Nikon so far, but am seriously considering the E-M5)

    1. Before the OM-D I had an E-P2 and my Nikon D300. The E-P2 was poor compared to the D300. Much worse high ISO, less dynamic range. So, yes, the E-P2’s RAW files give you less range to play with.

      Not so with the OM-D. High ISO is better than the D300’s and so is dynamic range. It’s a completely different sensor. There is no “family DNA”.

      1. Kenneth,

        I agree with Andreas. One of the very compelling things about this camera is that it is quickly closing the quality gap between professional SLR cameras and Micro 4/3 cameras to the extent that I believe many outdoor, press and street photographers will make this a primary tool in much of their work.

  21. Nice to watch Scott. Looks like you’re having a good time shooting. Since we are having a good old ‘gearhead’ chat, I was wondering what you are using as your primary camera these days? I’m rocking the D3s until the D4s comes out, you think it’s worth having a 4/3 camera in my kit?

    Cheers man!

    1. Gary,

      I’m shooting with the EM5, the Sony A77 and the D3s depending on the project. The funny thing is that for all of my favorite type of photography (outdoor adventures and landscapes), I’m opting for the smallest camera in my arsenal, I think you may be interested in incorporating a 4/3 or other mirrorless camera as well. It’s quite freeing!

  22. I’ve watched just about every video reviewing the OM-D E-M5. What you’ve put together is hands down the most interesting and enjoyable to watch. Nice job !

    1. Tim,

      Thanks, that’s great feedback and definitely was my hope when producing this project. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think would enjoy it, if we can get the word out widely enough people will stumble upon this instead of the more dry/standard review videos.

      Thanks!

  23. Great video and great addition to your blog.

    I’ve been sceptical about the micro 4/3 cameras since they came out but this has changed my mind on them.
    I can’t see myself getting one anytime soon, i’m hoping to move up the SLR ladder first but i will start recommending them to friends who don’t want to buy SLRs.

    1. Keri, glad you liked this. I think 4/3 cameras are a great recommendation for people moving up from point/shoot cameras. I also think they are amazing for pros to use for traveling, street photography and rugged outdoor environments.

  24. The focus is it like DSLR with focus Points or blocks or more like a point and shoot with a green block on the LCD, that you can move with a button, which is usually slow ?

    1. Neill, the focus can be done via manual control on the lens, via the touch screen on the back of the camera (pretty cool new technology) or via 35 focus points that you can select with the thumb toggle. It’s quite like the focus systems of the best SLR cameras.

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